Maryland health workforce and emergency assistance bills heard in committee

Two bills aiming to supplement the state health workforce and emergency response system were on the agenda for the House Health and Government Operations Committee Tuesday. The first was a crossover bill sponsored by Sen. Delores Kelley (D – Baltimore). The other was sponsored by committee member Cheryl Landis (D – Prince George’s). 

 

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Kelley’s bill, SB720, would issue name and licensure changes to the State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators (BENHA). It unanimously passed the Senate on March 25.

The bill renames BENHA as the State Board of Long-Term Care Administrators to also encompass non-nursing home care settings. The bill would establish a licensing and regulatory system for assisted living managers, overseen by the Board. Assisted living managers would then need to be certified by the Board beginning Oct. 24, 2024.

“SB 720 is here because of concerns shared by the Maryland Department of Health,” Kelley said at the hearing, “regarding the need for the licensing and professionalizing of the over 1600 assisted living entities operating in Maryland with no licensure currently required and with grossly inadequate oversight.” 

The Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Quality held several meetings from September–December 2021 to seek informal public comment from stakeholders to revise its assisted living standards. 

The office’s draft assisted living regulations, first created in September 2016, served as a starting point for the community discussions. The document listed guidelines for staff requirements, abuse or neglect of residents, and compliance monitoring. 

Landis’ bill, HB1439, would authorize the city of Bowie to participate in the Maryland Intrastate Emergency Medical Assistance Compact (MIEMAC). The compact, Landis described during the hearing, allows the provision of mutual assistance between certain jurisdictions in the event of an emergency. Mutual aid can include fire services, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and communication services. 

All 23 counties and the cities of Baltimore, Annapolis, Ocean City, and Laurel already participate in MIEMAC. Bowie, as well as the city of Rockville, are the only municipalities that currently do not.

“During an emergency, vital resources sometimes exceed those available at the local level,” Landis testified, “Like all the other jurisdictions in the state, the city of Bowie is indeed vulnerable to many hazards, ranging from severe weather-related events to technological and man-made incidents. My charter, the city of Bowie, of course is responsible for ensure the public safety and welfare of its communities.” 

Both bills are awaiting a voting session in the HGO committee.